Laying Laminate Flooring and Underlay in Easy Steps

Why Use Laminate?
Laminate flooring is undeniably one of the most useful inventions. Made to have the appearance of natural stained wood flooring, laminate is more affordable, does not need to be nailed in place, doesn’t need finishing treatments, and is damage resistant. Options in laminate flooring are numerous and vary is design from wood grain replication, to mimicking ceramic tile. Although laminate flooring still contains wood from our natural resources, the majority of the material used in laminate flooring contains no wood and bonds together in several layers in a process using high pressure and heat. The benefit of using laminate over wood flooring is that the various layers of cellulose fibers will allow expansion and contraction during humidity changes. Areas that contain high humidity levels like bathrooms are not suitable for laminate flooring.

Getting Started.
Once you’ve made your choice in what type of laminate design you want to see in your home, you’ll need to pull together some basic tools for the job. Materials needed obviously include your laminate flooring, and if you have chosen a variety that does not come with underlay attached to the planks, you will need to buy some rolls of underlay as well. You’ll also need protective sheeting, laminate adhesive, molding or baseboard, and threshold transitions. Basic hand tools include a hammer, a crow-bar or pull bar, spacers to use between sections of flooring or between walls and flooring, safety glasses, utility knife, gloves, a tape measure, power tools such as saws and drills, and some laminate cleaner. You may not necessarily need all these items, but they are handy to have should the need arise. Most of these tools are available in your local hardware shop, and many shops sell laminate flooring installation kits which include the tools most needed for the job.

Laminate Flooring Installation.
Before you begin to install your laminate flooring, you must ensure your work surface is flat and clean. Remove any uneven areas that will affect your flat surface with a paint scraper, a putty knife, or, for stubborn lumps, a sander or grinder. Divots or dents should be made level with wood filler or crack filler and left the appropriate time to dry. Remove all trim and transitions from walls and doorways.

Underlay First
When you are ready to start putting your floor down, you must first start with the underlay.

Usually purchased in rolls, applying underlay is a very simple task to complete, and is essential in controlling excess noise. Roll the underlay out from one side of the room to the other and secure in place with adhesive strips found on the underlay, or tape. Returning to the starting point with the remainder of the roll, or the next roll of underlay, roll the next piece out across the room beside the last length of underlay and adhere the two pieces together at the seam, making sure to overlap them by approximateky one centimetre. Continue until the floor surface is covered completely with underlay. Any excess can be cut away once the laminate flooring has been installed.

To best lay your laminate floor down in evenly, measure your room from one side to the other and divide by the width of one laminate plank. Add the remaining amount to the plank width and divide by two in order to balance to room. Leave a half centimetre or full centimetre gap between the wall and first row of laminate planks for expansion room. Beginning at one side of the room, place spacers along the wall the give you the expansion area. Set the first plank down and then the next, end to end, and secure in place. At the end of the first row you may need to cut the final piece in order to fit it in. Subtract half a centimetre from the measurement of the space between the wall and the end of the last piece laid before cutting your final piece. Use the off-cut to start your next row unless it is shorter that 20 centimetres. Continue in this way until the room is nearly compete. The final row may need to be cut along its length.

The final steps of installing laminate flooring are the ones that demand the most patience. Cut the underlay so that it is even with the laminate flooring. Remove all spacers from the walls and install the molding or baseboard in order to hide the expansion gap. Remember to attach the molding to the walls and not the flooring so that the floor is able to expand and contract as needed. Attach the transition pieces in doorways and level changes. Lastly, give the floor a gentle clean with a damp mop or some laminate cleaner and sit back to enjoy your work.